Clarence Gilyard, known for his roles in films such as Die Hard and Top Gun, has died aged 66.
Gilyard’s death was announced by the University of Nevada, Vegas (UNLV), where he has worked in recent years as a film and theater teacher.
The actor played Hans Gruber’s terrorist hacker, Theo, alongside Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman in Die Hard in 1988, as well as Naval Flight Officer Marcus “Sundown” Williams in Top Gun alongside Tom Cruise in 1986.
He was also known for TV series such as Matlock and Walker, Texas Ranger.
In an acting, directing, and producing career spanning more than 30 years, Gilyard was still active in the film and television industry while teaching theater at UNLV.
Recent projects included the short Legacy Of A Spy in 2021 and the films Christmas On The Coast and The Perfect Race – as well as reprising Theo’s role alongside Willis’ John McClane for a drum commercial in 2020.
The actor was 66 years old and suffered from a long illness, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Paying tribute, UNLV Dean Nancy J Uscher said she shared the news of his death with “deep sadness”.
She continued: “His students were deeply inspired by him, as were all who knew him. He had many extraordinary talents and was extremely well known at the university through his dedication to teaching and his accomplishments. professionals.
“He had a national and international following through his famous work in theatre, film and television. His generosity of spirit was limitless – he was always ready to contribute to projects and performances as much as possible.”
She said the university will remember Gilyard “with joy and gratitude”.
UNLV film president Heather Addison described the actor as “a beacon of light and strength to everyone around him” at college.
“Whenever we asked how he was doing, he happily declared that he was ‘blessed!’ But we are truly the ones who have been blessed to be his colleagues and students for so many years. We love you and will miss you dearly, Professor G!”
In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2017, Gilyard said he had been “blessed” in his career.
“There are better looking, more talented actors, but at that time, the directors who were after me, they said, ‘This kid has to be in my movie,'” he said.
He also said he was “wired to teach”, adding, “I’m a professional, but the craft has to feed the class. That’s what drives my characters because I’m in touch with people’s lives in the 21st century. I work best as an artist when I’m in a fertile arena. That means creative and imaginative. Being with all these millennials – I don’t understand what they’re saying but I’m siphoning off their energy.